EASTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL TREASURY PRICE INDEX

The price index issued yesterday (subs: Mon, 14 June) by the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury for the procurement of goods is welcome, but this is only one step on the road to rooting out tender corruption.

The goods and services and capital budget of this province exceeds R13 billion. If 20% of this is lost to over pricing, corruption and poor workmanship this means the province could be losing up to R2.6 billion per year. This amount exceeds the budgets of a number of departments.

Last year this province overspent by R2.8 billion and a number of departments, especially Health and Education, cannot provide satisfactory services. In a cash strapped province such as ours, tough action needs to be taken to root out tender corruption.

Although it will now be increasingly more difficult to charge the province R20 for ballpoint pens, R26 for a loaf of bread and R100 for a pocket of potatoes, there are a number of other steps that need to be taken to root out the rot and evil of corruption that is strangling service delivery in this province. These are:

1. A price index for major items such as clinics, classrooms and roads needs to be issued.

2. One needs to root out the middleman who is simply acting as a channel for government tenders without adding any value – in other words they are simply charging the province a connection commission.

3. A thorough forensic audit needs to be done of last minute calls for services which conveniently by-pass any tender system. This allows for connected insiders to benefit.

4. Fourthly, legislation needs to be introduced to ban civil servants trading with the province. The Director General of Education was recently quoted as saying that 90% of senior managers in the Education Department are trading with the province.

5. Tough action needs to be taken against Senior Managers who fail to declare their interests. Last year only 58% of Senior Managers in the province declared their interests on time.

I will be introducing a private members bill later on this year to outlaw provincial public servants doing business with the province.

For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 0827753444